• Member Since 28th Aug, 2011
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Cold in Gardez


Stories about ponies are stories about people.


E

Twilight Sparkle is a happy pony. With the help of her friends she defeated Tirek. She has a shiny new castle, the kingdom is safe, and she knows the reason behind her ascension. What more could a young princess want?

She is happy, she tells herself as she digs through the ruins of her home. She is so happy she can barely smell the ashes any more.

But in those ashes she finds something unexpected: a small porcelain vase, and with it a decade's worth of unspoken questions. A mystery hiding beneath her hooves, waiting to be put to rest.

Winner of the November Writeoff event.

Chapters (1)
Comments ( 195 )
Sind #1 · Dec 7th, 2014 · · ·

Hm...

This story is quite lovely, it really is,

but,

I must admit, the ending did fell a tad off to me.
I guess... I was just really expecting her to scatter his ashes over the old library's remains... :applejackunsure:

PresentPerfect
Author Interviewer

Glad you made that little tweak to the end. :)

5352975
There was a lot of discussion about that during the writeoff. The original ending's been changed (and I like it more), but you aren't the only one who suggested something similar.

To be fair, I can see the benefits of this choice. One of the core themes Twilight keeps repeating (with her words, anyway; her actions are lampshaded as ambivalent about that) is that the funerary arrangements are for the benefit of the living. This way, ponies won't forget about him and his contributions, whereas if his ashes had been scattered it would have been consigning him to history.

Sind #4 · Dec 7th, 2014 · · 3 ·

5353105
I wouldn't trust what Twilight says in this fic... but I get what you mean, and there is some merit to it. However, I still find her actions to be a bit disconnected; she just seems so intent on finding a resting place in the scenes we observe, yet this never gets quite resolved.
Besides, what is an urn of ashes? It tells no story of its content, if you ask me.

Sind #5 · Dec 7th, 2014 · · 2 ·

5353105
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, scattering the ashes over the old library would double as a funeral for the tree itself, signifying that Twilight has reached a state of acceptance, and thus resolving another plot point that kinda went nowhere...

5353105
5352975

I'm going to dissent here and say that I think this ending is better, and is both for the benefit of page turner and for the living. I say this because the concept of being remembered is very important to us. If we die, as long as people ponies remember us, the impact we left on the world has not yet faded. By paying tribute to what Page Turner and Golden Oaks contributed to the world, Twilight is allowing ponies for years to come to appreciate what was once there, even if Tirek took it away.

I still can't get over how beautifully perfect the concept here is. A librarian marries an earth pony who can manipulate trees, so they build a library out of a tree. It's poetic and sublime and perfectly executed in how the underlying truth is slowly revealed. We still don't know why the urn was there, or why it was left. But we know the most important thing. We know about the love that brought them together, and how that love created something beautiful. And, as Twilight says, perhaps that is all that matters.

Goddamn it Cold In Gardez, how are you this brilliant?

I did not know that this was the winning entry for last month, so congrats on that! This was very well done, and paced just right to give the reader time to soak in the narrative as it progressed. Well done! :pinkiesmile:

Perhaps this is a bit odd to say, but of everything in this story, this line from Fluttershy stood out the most:

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, he’ll die tonight. But he’ll be warm and comfortable. I think that counts for something.”

For as quiet and introverted as she is, this line spoke volumes to me about her view of the reality of the world; the 'way of things', if that makes any sense. She comes across as wholly afraid/mortified by pain and suffering, yet she calmly offers what amounts to palliative care to a dying creature with a sense of composure that you normally only see in doctors and medics that have seen it all - and far too often at that.

If this were a psychologist's office, this would be a 'tell me more about that line' moment. :twilightsmile:

So glad to see this:

Up and readable here!

Mike

5353355
That was my absolute favorite line/scene from the entire Nov writeoff entry pool. Speaks volumes about the character, was totally in line with the theme of the story, and showed something deep down instead of just telling you how you should feel about it.

The library’s public collection had held ten-thousand, four-hundred and fifty-four books, of which fewer than two dozen survived the fire.

I guess the town wasn't that big on reading then, eh? hyuck

Nice little slice of life, I really enjoyed how Twilight kept going back to the "I have a castle now" to cope with her loss. Seeing her finally, truly, moving on and making a new life for herself in said castle is very touching.

The best way to move on is to go forward, not forgetting your past but making your future even brighter to wash out the shadows.

Sad thing what happened to Page Turner, but even in the land of candy colored horses it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

“She loved trees. She could make them grow in any shape she wanted.” Pinkie rubbed the table with her hoof, buffing away an imagined speck of dirt. “He said the library tree was her idea. So their two passions would always be together.”

*Heart Breaks*

I misread the title as "All the Mortal Enemies."

I can't help but feel disappointed now.

Anyne #14 · Dec 7th, 2014 · · 27 ·

“You’re right. The castle is great, but it’s… well, it feels odd sometimes. I’m not used to it yet.”

It's been 7 months, get used to it already

Beautifully done. The story as a whole is very touching - Twilight's attempts to come to grips with her loss (and the trauma of the previous days) was very sweet. And...

Fluttershy shook her head. “No, he’ll die tonight. But he’ll be warm and comfortable. I think that counts for something.”

Like a few others here, I'd have to point to Fluttershy's scene with the cub as my favorite of the story. Her line was really a beautiful tribute to her spirit. Twilight also kept referring to the cub as 'it' where Fluttershy called it 'him' every time. Very nice touch. You really have all of these characters down so well!

At some unheard signal, Rarity sighed and pulled herself out of the tub. Her coat was plastered flat, revealing curves and angles that normally lay hidden, and her mane and tail were likewise sodden, hanging down in amethyst curtains that were almost black against her snow white body. In that unguarded moment, stripped of her affected accent and her eyeshadow and blush and fancy make-up and styling gels, she was as beautiful as the moon or the sun. I wondered if she realized how alluring she was.

Wow. I love the style of your writing, a rare kind - graceful, effective, emotional but not too lavender - that I really appreciate. And if I didn't already know, this lovely description of Rarity would lead me to believe that you really like her.

I'd have to read through again, but I felt like Twilight was a little touchy-feely with her friends, maybe a signal that she was feeling the need for a little physical closeness after suffering from the trauma of everything that happened as a result of Tirek. I don't know if you intended this, but it appeared that way to me.

Sorry, I wrote too much again, so I think I'll stop here. :twilightsmile:

'Fulfillment' is the word that I feel fest describes this one. And you've met it wonderfully.

This is going in my Display Case. You're still dominating that one, by the way.

5353568
You're thinking realtime, buddy.

The ashes were still smouldering in the beginning of this tale, putting it at just after the end of Season 4.

Emil #18 · Dec 7th, 2014 · · ·

I'm trying to figure who would buy Junebug's june bugs, and for what purpose.

ever since the new system came out, i have been putting stories on 'tracking'. i haven't quite gotten used to the whole 'bookshelf' system yet.

This is the first story in a while that's gotten a favorite. i think i'm gonna cry. Amazing job.

“I still don’t know how you ended up in my basement, or who put you there. Maybe that was your plan all along."

Yeah, I'm inclined to think that Page Turner's ashes were right where he wanted them to be-- surrounded by his books, in the tree his wife grew.

This could so easily have degenerated into pointless feels-porn. I congratulate you on successfully avoiding that trap. Well done.

Lovely story, once again! I liked how each vignette told us not just about Page Turner, but also the pony relating it, and of Twilight herself.

I think the ending is good, too. It's in the spirit of what he would have wished, and it helps Twilight to find closure with her loss of the library, too.

Ooooh, mystery!

This is going on my Read Later list.

Wizard of Earthsea... great series, I chuckled :).

5353355
Yeah, Fluttershy's bit is probably my favorite thing about this story.

5353597

I'd have to read through again, but I felt like Twilight was a little touchy-feely with her friends, maybe a signal that she was feeling the need for a little physical closeness after suffering from the trauma of everything that happened as a result of Tirek. I don't know if you intended this, but it appeared that way to me.

I remember in the original version of this story, there was a bit about Pinkie Pie pressing her warm, soft body against Twilight and I was like "Woah there, partner, that's a bit uh, friendly as a description."

But she also noticed Rarity's beauty here and tried to bump noses with Rainbow Dash.

Clearly our shipping goggles have gotten stuck on our faces.

Either that or Bats' advice is percolating around the fandom a bit more than it should.

24.media.tumblr.com/594779e0675c7576f02bc7f221c8d003/tumblr_ml0fp6AcBT1r1wdbeo1_500.png

I honestly I don't think I'll ever get tired of stories like this.

This is easily one of my favourite stories on this site. Thanks for the excellent read, sir. You remind me that I can always find something new to learn about writing as a craft; so many techniques used spectacularly and to solid effect in this story. Well done, as always.

...you are a writer so good it's unfair.

And we all love you for it.

5353355
5353417

At the risk of spoiling it for those who haven't read it, that line brought me back instantly to Estee's Five Hundred Little Murders, which I would recommend anyone who's interested in the abovementioned theme to read

I love this story. It's very moody. It's the kind of thing I, as a writer, am not as good at, but I wish I was.

Having said that... I couldn't help recollecting another long-ago story which told how the old librarian had lost her job and been summarily evicted to make way for the princess's pet, and spent the rest of her days stalking Twilight Sparkle and plotting revenge. :rainbowlaugh:

This was undeniably beautiful to read. Thank you for sharing.

I opened my mouth to say that of course I had a copy, that I had a personal signed first edition as well as two copies in the young adult section of the library proper, when I remembered that all those things

A personally signed first edition copy of this worlds version of a wizard of Earthsea? Tirek you fiend!

On a more serious note. That was beautiful. The quality of the writing, the story, the characters, the ending. Everything. Oh dear god that ending. It actually had me tear up. Its been forever since a story did that to me.

I loved this story, and everything I've read of yours, Cold. Keep it up! :twilightsheepish:

5354301 I know, right? I feel like sometimes shipping goggles are more like a permanent coating on my glasses. But I like to think that in this case it's just ponies being ponies (herd-like) and Twilight feeling a bit adrift and needing some close contact to help the world stop shaking... no matter how sexy Rarity looked coming out of the bath. :raritywink:

5354639
>Implying there's anyone who shouldn't read Five Hundred Little Murders

I have you in my list of top authors on this site, and it is always nice to be reminded why you belong there.

Thanks for this.

5355244

I think that's the fastest anyone's done a dramatic reading of any of my stories. Thanks!

This is a beautiful little story, and the background it provides for Golden Oaks library is just perfect. I think it's going to be my headcanon now.

I have just a few minor quibbles. If Page Turner died nine years ago, would Twilight's friends remember him that well? Rarity and Applejack I understand, but Rainbow, Pinkie, and Fluttershy weren't born in Ponyville. Have they lived there long enough, and were they old enough when they moved there, to remember someone who died nine years ago? But yes, story-wise, Twilight had to learn about him from her friends. Asking background characters would simply not have had the necessary effect (and the dying baby manticore adds a bit of heartbreaking realism). The way each one remembers him differently gives a little bit of "Rashomon" to the whole thing.

One final and minor quibble: the accents of the spa ponies aren't French but Scandinavian.

Anyway, a deeply moving story!

I read the description and all I could think of was:

"wake up princess sparkle.... wake up.... and smell... the ashes...."

Twilight attempted to sit beneath the Library Tree and attain enlightenment... but Tirek blew it up.

Then she found pony ashes.

It was crazy.

A lovely story—and I too was struck by Fluttershy. If I was to continue what I laid down a little while ago, and go full Pratchett in my peculiar way, this would be one of the reasons: to bring MY Fluttershy to THAT place, where she could quietly and stubbornly carry out those actions with those thoughts and that perspective. It's not often that I react like that to the characterization of others, and one could reasonably argue that it's very unlike the show's Fluttershy—but what are we doing if not going deeper and finding more trueness in these simple, iconic characters?

To do so in a single unexpected reaction, now, that's a fearsome and wonderful gift. Good job, sir. :ajsleepy:

I really liked this story, it's one of my favourites on this site.

Feels unresolved to me. Sure, I suppose Twilight reached some degree of decision, but I almost wonder why she didn't write a letter to the Princess or something. It feels like she never really address her own feelings about the library or about how dumbit is for the ex-librarian's remains relegated to the library's basement.

5355403
I agree that it's a little weird that they somehow remember him and that's who Twilight goes to ask. I feel like throwing in a few background ponies (which they aren't really in this context, but whatever) would have helped. Mixing it up between a few of her friends and the others would have made more sense. How do you know what the Spa Ponies' ethnicity is? Is that even canon?

5354232
What's your problem, hmm?

5353351
Being remembered doesn't seem like it's all that great. You have little control over how or why you are remembered. Frankly, Rarity's recollection paints him in a much nicer light than Rainbow Dash's memories.

P.S.
If I were Twilight Sparkle, that castle would never make up for the loss of the library and my possessions. It's hard to imagine that she would either, but I suppose the story has to end somewhere

5356559

How do you know what the Spa Ponies' ethnicity is? Is that even canon?

I know because in the first Zecora episode when we hear one of the spa ponies speak she definitely has a Scandinavian accent. That's what that accent was. If you want to give them a French accent that is your right, but that is not the accent they have in the show.

5354639

Apparently even thinking about that story is enough to make my eyes water. It's a very, very good story, though, and I agree with everyone else who was very struck by Fluttershy's line that started this conversation.

I miss my cats.

Guh.

This was really touching and I am not surprised it won a writing contest of any sort.

I don't have a lot else to say that hasn't already been said, so I'll just say...

I may not always comment on your stories, but every time I pick one up, they are consistently stories that leave a lasting impression on me, in a good way, and to me that is indicative of top-tier writing. So bravo to you.

--CG

A wizard of Earthsea reference? Gosh, that takes me back!
That timberwolves would attack manticores and leave thorns in their wounds was a nice touch of worldbuilding; it made complete and total sense, fit with what we've already seen, and drew a nice connection to the wider world of the Everfree forest. Good idea.

I have to agree with the others here that you gave Fluttershy a very strong presence with a very small scene and one very well placed sentence. Beautiful stuff. I also dug your scene with Applejack, but then, I just kind of like scenes with Applejack, and her particular view of things.

Well then, here I am at the end of this story, just kind of...

There are stories that I read, where I feel that I have gained something of value among here among the candy colored horse-people. This is one of them God bless, and thanks!
5353802
Bait for fishing comes to mind... But they're vegetarians, aren't they? Huh. The mystery remains.

5354301 Actually, it might be implying a need for sensate awareness. (She could be a kinesthetic person hungry for contact with safe people during a stressful time, as in the show Twilight gets plenty of hugs and friendly contact with other ponies.)

As far as lesbian, I wouldn't be surprised if she were, but of course the show gives no data on Twilight; Rarity is the most sexually-present pony in the show, and that's only hinted at with shots of her being shown as attractive and flirting for gain, and I think of her as a romance-reading straight mare. I prefer to think of Twilight as bisexual if these are all the hints we get. On the other hoof, I think of Cadance as pansexual (discriminating not on gender, but other criteria) because of her talent, which may not even be a thing that happens. Celestia, who knows? She could be anything after all that time. Luna is less mature and definitely enjoys her escapades (note the comics), but it's made clear she prefers certain male accompaniment when she's carousing -- that too could be immaturity, or it could be due to resemblance to a Guardspony (Big Mac is large, strong, and quiet in nature, yet imposing when roused). Pinkie I think of as straight, but liberal (or libertine).

Better to have variety for contrast, I say. Not every mare has to turn her nose toward her besties.

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